After easily defeating the College of William & Mary Feb. 18, the Drexel University women’s basketball team looked ahead to welcoming James Madison University to the Daskalakis Athletic Center for what would be the game of the season. JMU was ranked first in the Colonial Athletic Association standings coming into the game, with Drexel in second. The Dragons were 11-0 at home, having defended their court without a single loss yet this season.
After a disappointing loss to Elon University Feb. 4, JMU came in with the chance to prove that they were still on top. The Dragons had a message to send to them as they forced double overtime and came out with the win over JMU 73-71.
The teams went head to head in the first quarter right away. JMU was up 5-0 in the first two minutes just before senior Sara Woods hit a shot from the floor to put the Dragons on the board.
With 4:44 left in the first, the Dragons tied the score 9-9 with a shot from sophomore Niki Metzel. The Dragons were able to find a better rhythm with each other as they took the lead until the end of the quarter, ending five points up 19-14.
In the second quarter, the Dragons held JMU to only nine points and increased their lead to 30-23. Senior Kelsi Lidge and Metzel were tied with seven points each after the first half. Lidge had already grabbed five rebounds and handed out four assists. Although they were up, the team only shot 43.3 percent from the field, only made three of their seven three-point attempts and missed three of their four free throws.
However, JMU was only shooting 38.1 percent from the field and were being led by Kamiah Smalls, who had nine points after the first half.
Throughout the third quarter, the Dragons would push their lead to nine points but JMU would come right back to decrease the lead, hoping to eventually tie.
Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, JMU was back within two points after a fast break play that resulted in a quick layup from Smalls of JMU. The Dragons did not give the lead back or let JMU tie the score until three minutes in the quarter had passed.
The score went back and forth all the way until the end. Woods was awarded two free throws after a JMU foul. She missed the first, but made the second and increased the Dragons’ lead to 56-54. A timeout from JMU was called with 33 seconds left in the game. JMU’s Kelly Koshuta grabbed the rebound after a missed shot from her teammate Lexie Barrier and hit a layup with 22 seconds left.
A timeout was then called by head coach Denise Dillon for the Dragons after Koshuta tied the score for JMU, but a missed shot by Lidge left the score tied by the final buzzer and forced the teams into overtime.
With five minutes now on the clock to determine who would win this game, the Dragons jumped out first with a 4-0 run to lead 60-56 with all four points coming from sophomore Aubree Brown.
JMU brought the score to a tie of 60-60 with 1:19 left to play. Two free throws were awarded to Woods after another JMU foul, and she made both of them, putting the Dragons in a familiar position of being up by two points at the end.
With 26 seconds left to play, Logan Reynolds of JMU hit a jump shot in the paint to tie the score again. It was then time for the second overtime with the score tied 62-62.
The fight was not over for the Dragons. A big lead of six points in their favor with 1:04 left to play sparked a little Dragon fire in the gym. The team did not let up and continued to push past JMU with their largest lead of seven points in this overtime after senior Megan Marecic made her free throw.
As the clock started ticking down, and it became clear that Drexel was going to grab another win on their home court, a final three-point shot from Hailee Barron of JMU with 10 seconds to play closed the gap to only two points for JMU.
Brown ended with 26 points, six rebounds and two steals. She was followed by Woods who had 17 points and seven rebounds.
After their third straight win, the Dragons looked ahead as they traveled to play Towson University Feb. 25. They took another win from Towson 62-54 with a much stronger second half.
Brown led again with 16 points and five assists. Lidge finished with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals. Sophomore Bailey Greenberg made her mark with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Dragons headed to the University of Delaware March 1 for their last away game of the season and won 72-53.
Their last game will be March 3 as they host the College of Charleston for senior day at the DAC at 1 p.m. The CAA Championships will be hosted by Drexel March 7-10. The top six teams in the conference will receive a bye in the first round of championship play. With all teams completing their seasons by the end of this week, schedules will be released soon for the championships. Stay tuned.